Posts Tagged Mitt Romney
Attorney General Eric Holder has a solid record on voting rights, and he’s criticized Republican state lawmaker’s efforts to restrict the franchise in the past — at one point comparing voter ID laws to an unconstitutional poll tax. At a speech in New York yesterday, Holder added a new line to his previous attacks on voter suppression, suggesting that DOJ will respond with legal action if any Republican state lawmakers move forward with their proposals to rig the Electoral College:
Long lines are unnecessary. Shortened voting periods are unwise and inconsistent with the historic ideal of expanded participation in the process.. Let me be clear again: we will not sit by and allow the slow unraveling of an electoral system that so many sacrificed so much to construct.
There are two versions of the GOP’s election rigging plans, both of which Republicans want to enact exclusively in blue states. One version would allocate electoral votes in several targeted blue states by Congressional district, rather than to the winner of the state as a whole. The other version, which is currently being pushed by Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R), would allocate electoral votes proportionally — so that Mitt Romney would have won a significant chunk of Pennsylvania’s electoral voters even though President Obama carried the state. As with the congressional districts plan, Pileggi’s election-rigging plan would give away electoral votes to Republicans in his blue state, while still keeping all red state electors in GOP hands:
Holder’s suggestion that he would bring the full weight of the Department of Justice down upon any state that tried to steal the White House is certainly welcome, although it alone will not be enough to stop these election-rigging plans. Ultimately, the Justice Department’s ability to protect voting rights depends on a Supreme Court that is not openly hostile to the franchise — and the Roberts Court’s contempt for voting rights pervades their decisions. If the GOP election-rigging plans are to be defeated, it will require citizens in states like Pennsylvania raising their voice in outrage at this blatant attempt to steal American democracy.
- AG Holder: ‘We Will Not Sit By’ While Republicans Rig The Electoral College (thinkprogress.org)
- Democrats Hold Near Lock on Electoral College (politicalwire.com)
- Holder criticizes some states over electoral college maneuvers, calls some prison sentences too long (dailykos.com)
- Michigan GOP backs electoral college rigging scheme (tv.msnbc.com)
- That zombie Republican electoral college rigging scam — it lives! (washingtonmonthly.com)
- 13 GOP Pennsylvania Senators Introduce New Plan To Rig The Electoral College For Republicans (thinkprogress.org)
- The Republcan Pennsylvania Plan To Rig The Electoral College (alan.com)
- Electoral-vote scheme still simmering in Pennsylvania (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- Ed Rendell on election rigging in Pennsylvania: “A really big deal” (democrats.org)
- GOP leader revisits Electoral College plan (triblive.com)
Why Does Anyone Still Take Paul Ryan Seriously?
His failed V.P. bid may have made him a national figure, but his budget plan is hopelessly out of touch.
March 16, 2013
Zipping across the land with a nice internet connection, so a good time to reflect a bit (looking down on clouds from above broadens the perspective a bit, I find).
So, I’m doing a radio interview last night, and moderately impressed with myself for being able to speak coherently about four different budgets: Ryan’s, Senate’s, POTUS (not out yet, but we can guess at the mix), and the CPC. Then I got asked a question which threw me a bit: why are Paul Ryan and his budget taken so seriously?
It wasn’t a snarky question. It’s just that I’d been discussing the absolute non-reality of his proposal—how the numbers don’t begin to add up, the unrealistic budget cuts, the plethora of magic asterisks in the absence of actual proposals (the most egregious of which is: I’ll cuts taxes by $6-7 trillion over the next decade and offset the revenue losses with…um…sorry, gotta run). And the interviewer was like, “OK…but if you’re right, why is his budget front page news such that he’s driving the debate?”
Here’s what I think is going on. First, institutional reasons. His party holds the majority and he’s the chair of the House Budget Committee. That in itself makes his budget newsworthy. Also, as a former VP candidate, he’s a national figure.
But that’s not the main reason.
I asked a wise, intently non-partisan friend who thought, and he admitted he was being generous, that one reason might be that Ryan’s introduced an important theme into the discussion: if you want really low taxes, you’ve got to give up Medicare as we know it.
But while that may be in there somewhere, it’s awfully muddled. It certainly wasn’t Ryan’s position in the election, where he and Mitt attacked the President for Medicare cuts. And his voucher program doesn’t start for ten years.
In other words, I think my friend is being too generous. I’ve argued that we actually need our politicians to articulate this point: if we want X, we’re going to have to pay for X. To my ears, Paul Ryan actually fits squarely in the problematic camp on this point, telling folks they can painlessly have it all. But in his version, it takes the form of trickle down: if we cut taxes on job creators, get rid of the safety net, and inject health care delivery with competition, then we can have it all for a fraction of what we’re paying now.
That’s very different that telling the electorate straight up that if we want what we say we want—social insurance, a strong safety net, productive public goods including education—we’re going to need to raise more revenues to pay for it.
So what is the answer? I think it’s twofold.
First, his views, positions, and rhetoric mesh very neatly with those of influential people, and those people have helped convince the media that Ryan is saying important things. One group of those people are, of course, the fix-the-debt-shrink-the-government-fell-the-pain coalition. Neither the numbers (the actual fiscal record or trajectory) nor the economics support their views, but they’ve been extremely effective in driving the debate.
The other group—and yes, there’s tons of overlap—are those who benefit most from tax reductions on the wealthy, and remember, many of these folks are professional investors. When they invest in Congress, they expect a big bang for their big bucks.
All pretty depressing so far, I know. But the second part of the answer is hopeful, and comes from the hoary old adage that you really can’t fool all the people all the time.
This may well be premature, but I believe Ryan’s popularity—his rep as someone who mustn’t be ignored—is fading and that this most recent budget will play a significant role in his decline.
My first clue was an interview he did with Larry Kudlow this week, and Larry’s on his side, especially on the supply-side stuff. But the tone of the interview was revealing, I thought. Kudlow expressed skepticism and disbelief that Ryan would be able to repeal Obamacare and thus didn’t think the budget stood up to even cursory scrutiny. And Ryan basically agreed! He spoke of his budget as symbolic and visionary, or some such stuff—I don’t remember the word salad. But he kind of just said he’s holding up a picture of one way of looking at things, a way that he and his caucus think makes sense.
But I think they’re increasingly isolated in this regard—certainly, the election outcome suggests that to be the case—and eventually, this will move the media away from him, especially as the fiscal numbers continue to move down to more normal levels. I could easily be wrong, of course, but I think that at the end of the day—and it’s getting toward dusk—enough people will no longer want to look at that picture he’s holding up, and as far as I can tell, he doesn’t have any other ones to show us.
- Why Does Anyone Still Take Paul Ryan Seriously? (rinf.com)
- Paul Ryan’s and Barack Obama’s Youth Problems (txwclp.org)
- Paul Ryan is offering more than a budget (conservativeread.com)
- Paul Ryan: ‘We’re not going to give up on destroying the health care system’ (dailykos.com)
- Why does anyone still take Paul Ryan seriously? (salon.com)
- VIDEO: Business News – Apple, Paul Ryan, Sy, Samsung (marketcurator.com)
- Jared Bernstein: Why Does Rep. Paul Ryan Get So Much Attention? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Unleash Paul Ryan! (aei-ideas.org)
- Paul Ryan doesn’t want to refight the past. Except for repealing Obamacare and ending Medicare. (dailykos.com)
- Paul Ryan’s Budget Would Destroy 2 Million Jobs: Report (huffingtonpost.com)
The basic principle underlying progressive taxation is that, generally speaking, the more you make, the higher your tax rate. The fiscal cliff deal passed last week made the tax code more progressive in one way by raising income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, but unfortunately there remain numerous egregious examples of how our tax code is rigged in favor of the privileged few at the expense of middle-class workers.
Exhibit A in this rigged game is what we’ll call the Mitt Romney Loophole, a special giveaway that exclusively benefits private equity and hedge fund managers. In wonk speak, it’s called the “carried interest” loophole. We’ll let our Center for American Progress colleagues explain:
The carried interest loophole allows people who manage investment funds—such as private equity funds and hedge funds—to convert their income into lower-taxed capital gains.
Here’s how it works: The partners in businesses that manage pools of money on behalf of investors are paid in two ways. One part of their income is a “management fee” for managing the investments. This fee is generally taxed as ordinary income, according to progressive tax rates that currently top out at 39.6 percent. The other part of the fund managers’ income is their cut of the fund’s profits. The fund managers treat their part of the fund’s earnings as a capital gain, subject only to a top rate of 20 percent.
Investment managers, who include some of the world’s richest people, typically take a management fee equal to just 2 percent of the assets they manage—plus a 20 percent cut of their investors’ profits. In doing so, they are able to shield the bulk of their income from ordinary tax rates.
(You can find a more detailed explanation HERE.)
Lower tax rates on capital gains and dividends already disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans, but the Mitt Romney Loophole goes above and beyond that by allowing a narrow category of often extremely wealthy individuals to unfairly avoid paying their fair share.
This loophole is one of the main reasons that Mitt Romney paid a tax rate of just 13.9 percent on income of more than $20 MILLION. Meanwhile, millions of middle-class workers pay a much higher rate on their much, much lower salaries.
Closing this loophole would not only make our tax code fairer and more progressive, it would help raise the revenue that we need in order to protect vital programs and leave room in the budget for investments to grow the middle class. Closing just this one loophole that often benefits the ultra-wealthy would raise over ten years.
- A Former Hedge Fund Manager Breaks Down How Wall Street Uses Its Favorite Tax Loop (businessinsider.com)
- Dyal Capital, PE Fund Buying Hedge Firm Stakes, Tops Target (pehub.com)
- the Progress Report (mbcalyn.com)
- Field: The Return-Reducing Ripple Effects of the ‘Carried Interest’ Tax Proposals (taxprof.typepad.com)
- the ProgressReport (point4counterpoint.wordpress.com)
- Why the DC “game is up” for the active fund managers (henrytapper.com)
- Cliff Deal Left Asset Wealthy Untouched (rushlimbaugh.com)
- London’s Quantitative Hedge Funds Report Second Year of Losses – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Apple Inc. (AAPL): David Einhorn Among the 10 Most Committed Hedge Fund Managers (insidermonkey.com)
- The Tragedy of the “Smart” Money (fool.com)
The philosophy behind the quackery known as homeopathic medicine is that “like cures like.” As in: have a burn, apply a hot compress. This widely-panned pseudoscience (oh man, am I going to get letters) in its 300 years of existence has a history of being debunked, going away and then popping up a few decades later.
Adam Zyglis / Buffalo News
But this is the solution the NRA offers: Too many shootings requires more people armed and able to shoot. The problem AND the cure are basically the same: lots of guns.
On the other side is a call for ban of certain types of guns. This immediately gets into the weeds of “weapon-ese.” Semi-auto? Assault weapons? Machine guns? Military-style characteristics? High capacity magazines? Bayonet mount? Flash suppressors?!
Which if you don’t really care about guns (just care about being shot) is a booby trap set by gun enthusiasts. Because if you don’t know what semi-auto actually means (it’s a ridiculously broad term) — they can always tell you that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Which is true. Then the much-coveted conversation about guns in America is over.
Because in America you can’t hate guns. That’s not a legitimate stance. You have to love guns, possibly own a couple and be able to talk about them competently in order to have a seat at the table. Mitt Romney had to say he hunted “varmints.” Really.
The problem with the assault weapons ban is that it’s something. It’s something for a nation, in the wake of Sandy Hook, crying out for some kind of SOMETHING. Anything but the bogus and tone-deaf prescription for more weapons on the streets made by Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.
There’s a perfectly understandable cry for more gun control, which the assault weapons ban claims to be. It bans certain types of purchases on future weapons but it’s not (in reality) a good law. It won’t actually (as gun enthusiasts love to point out) affect gun deaths. Most gun deaths are by handguns. It’s the legislative equivalent of banning large bags of candy to curb obesity, when the real issue is the wide availability of said candy.
Gun lovers gleefully pointed out last week that Chicago, with its assault weapons ban, police-issued Firearms Owners Identification Card mandate and its refusal to issue open carry permits plus its ties to President Obama, had their 500th homicide of 2012. If we cherry pick this information (disregarding the fact Louisiana and Mississippi with their lax gun laws actually consistently lead the nation in murders per capita) it appears gun control is futile.
Recently the Chicago Police Department requested the University of Chicago Crime Lab researchers study the guns used in crimes. In a groundbreaking report they found those guns were bought legally and locally in Cook County (where Chicago is located). Even more specifically from Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale. The Sun-Times reported, “From 2008 to March 2012, the police successfully traced the ownership of 1,375 guns recovered in crimes in Chicago within a year of their purchase.” They continued, “Of those guns, 268 were bought at Chuck’s — nearly one in five.”
“How do the guns get on the street?,” the study asks. Straw purchasers. People without a record legally buying a weapon and then selling it. Which is outrageous and illegal. But the ATF — the law enforcement organization that would crack down on these sales — the Sun-Times points out, has been largely budget-cut out of business and doesn’t have the resources to track it or prosecute those crimes. It’s an agency that hasn’t had a full-time director in six years thanks to Congress insisting it requires a Senate confirmation. In short: In Cook County, Illinois (as with the rest of the country) it’s easy to get a gun and easy to sell a gun.
This leads me to one plea: If we get one bite at the proverbial gun safety apple, don’t make it the largely cosmetic assault weapons ban.
Federalize background checks, waiting periods and databases. Close the secondary market loopholes. These are things even card carrying NRA members agree with. Slow the flood of guns. But most importantly give the agency responsible for enforcing those laws a director and funding.
Then we can all learn weapon-ese and it’s not completely useless.
- The Assault Weapons Ban is a Red Herring (Guest Voice) (themoderatevoice.com)
- You Can’t Be Serious: Ex-NRA Leader Compares Assault Weapons Ban To Racial Discrimination!?!? [Video] (bossip.com)
- 500 Murders In Chicago Show Gun Bans Don’t Work (infiniteunknown.net)
- Former NRA President: Banning Assault Weapons Is Like Banning People Of Color (thinkprogress.org)
- The Assault Weapons Ban is a Red Herring (ukprogressive.co.uk)
- Illinois Ban On Assault Weapons Advances (chicagoist.com)
- Why We’re Still At Least Two Years Away from an Assault Weapons Ban (thetruthaboutguns.com)
- Senate panel approves bans on assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines (blogs.suntimes.com)
- White House squares up for fight with NRA over sweeping gun reforms (guardian.co.uk)
- Obama to weigh gun limits (charlotteobserver.com)
With Millions Still Waiting For Sandy Relief, Republicans Reintroduce Obamacare Repeal | ThinkProgress
The 112th Congress gaveled to a close on Thursday afternoon without passing a relief package for victims of Hurricane Sandy or reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, but Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) isn’t too concerned about finishing what Republicans had left undone. Instead, at 12:00 PM she introduced the very first piece of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which states are now busily implementing.
House Republicans have unsuccessfully voted 33 times in the last two years to eliminate health care reform and wasted at least 88 hours and $50 million, while failing to pass a single piece of job creation legislation in the last session of Congress.
Dozens of Republicans, including 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, ran against Obamacare, yet the party suffered losses every step along the way. The Supreme Court upheldthe law, House repeal efforts went nowhere in the Democratically-controlled Senate, and President Obama has pledged to veto any effort to rescind the measure. Even newly reelected Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was compelled to admit in November that Obamacare is now the law of the land (though he later backed away from his own comments and pledged to do everything in his power to undermine it).
But House Republicans are apparently not quite ready to give up the fight. At this rate, they could be on track to becoming even less productive than the least productive Congress in U.S. history.
- With Millions Still Waiting For Sandy Relief, Republicans Reintroduce Obamacare Repeal (thinkprogress.org)
- Why America Is Failing – ‘With Millions Still Waiting For Sandy Relief, Republicans Reintroduce Obamacare Repeal’ (thelastofthemillenniums.wordpress.com)
- House Republicans Snub Sandy Victims to Try and Repeal Obamacare for the 34th Time (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- House Rep Michele Bachmann Is a Total Idiot and Intros the 1st House Bill – Repeal Obamacare That Is Already a Law (bonjublog.com)
- House Republicans Snub Sandy Victims to Try and Repeal Obamacare for the 34th Time (politicususa.com)
- Repeal Obamacare bill: Rep. Michele Bachmann submits bill to Repeal Obamacare (wtvr.com)
- Tea Party Senator Says Obamacare Repeal Bill Will Fail, Plans To Introduce One Anyway (thinkprogress.org)
- Doubling Down On Stupid (themoderatevoice.com)
- GOP spendthrifts: $50 million later, 33 failed attempts at repealing Obamacare & Michele Bachmann tries again (freakoutnation.com)
- Bachmann Attacks Obamacare: New Congress, Old Tricks (atlantablackstar.com)
Should auld acquaintance be forgot? How ’bout the presidential campaign, the 112th Congress and Newsweek magazine? Journalists usually favor year-end recaps of news but as a public service I’m going to focus instead on the glorious months ahead, in this handy precap of 2013:
JAN. 1: At a New Year’s breakfast with Congressional leaders, President Obama outlines goals for his second term: creating jobs, reducing the deficit and ending war. House Speaker John Boehner tells reporters, “It sounds like the president is still campaigning.”
JAN. 31: Congressional Republicans introduce legislation to make Jackie Robinson’s birthday a federal holiday.
FEB. 3: Super Bowl XLVII is held in New Orleans and immediately establishes an NFL record for a Roman numeral that fewest fans are able to decipher.
FEB. 8: Hurricane Baby Girl threatens the Florida coast. Meteorologists explain that due to climate change, storms are arriving too prematurely to have proper names.
FEB. 15: Political guru Dick Morris tells Fox News that his analysis of the presidential election is “virtually complete,” and shows that low turnout among Mitt Romney’s family members hurt him in swing states.
MAR. 1: In an effort to help Canada cope with the theft from its maple syrup stockpile, Mexico offers a donation of 6 million pounds from its national guacamole reserves.
MAR. 19: Chris Christie makes a surprise appearance at the annual Cow Bell Concert in Sioux City, Iowa, declaring, “We must put politics aside.” Christie also denies a TMZ report that his fleece jackets contain wool from Chinese yaks.
APR. 4: On the heels of her break up with Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez announces she is engaged to Ryan Reynolds, freshly divorced from Blake Lively.
APR. 11: Making good on his election night pledge to work with Mitt Romney, President Obama names Romney U.S. ambassador to the Cayman Islands.
MAY 5: Congressional Republicans introduce legislation to make Cinco de Mayo an official U.S. holiday.
MAY 18: HBO begins production on its adaptation of the book “All In.” The film stars Kristen Wiig as Paula Broadwell, Ben Affleck as Gen. David Petraeous, Lindsay Lohan as Jill Kelley, and Jim Carrey as the Internet Guy.
JUNE 4: Eager buyers line up at 4 a.m. to purchase the new iPad Maxi. The device measures 2.5 x 4.8 ft., and has fold-down wheels for easy transport.
JULY 9: The Postal Service issues a $15 billion stamp. According to a USPS release, “Projections show that if we sell just one of these stamps per year, we’re home free.”
JULY 20: The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Bill and Hillary Clinton have signed a four-year lease on a farmhouse with pool and tennis court. Mrs. Clinton is quoted as saying, “Iowa is a delightful place to kick back and enjoy retirement.”
AUG. 1: Noting that the month is sorely lacking in federal holidays, Congressional Republicans propose making the second Monday in August National LGBT Recognition Day.
AUG. 15: Christian Louboutin for Target launches a super-sale, with shoe bargains starting at $650.
SEPT. 10: Continuing its precipitous decline, NBC’s “Today” show is surpassed in morning ratings by PBS’s “Dinosaur Train.”
SEPT. 14: Congressional Republicans vote to establish federal funding for Univision.
OCT. 8: Data from the College Board show a record number of students have applied for the Semester Abroad Program in Gangnam, South Korea.
Oct. 14: Walmart “honors” Thanksgiving Day in Canada by opening U.S. stores at midnight and keeping them open until Nov. 29.
NOV. 2: Dick Morris concedes that his prediction of total runs scored in the World Series was off by 23. Morris tells the N.Y. Post, “I had no idea there were so many Latino players.”
NOV. 28: The nation celebrates Thanksgiving unusually late in the month, causing the National Retailers Association to propose that Christmas be delayed by one week.
DEC. 3: Americans line up for the first Plumbing Repair Tuesday, with great “Drain-Buster Deals.”
DEC. 4: Americans flock to Win-it-Back Wednesday, featuring a 25 percent bonus at the nation’s casinos for those tapped out after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Plumbing Repair Tuesday.
DEC. 31: At a New Year’s Eve tea with Republican leaders, President Obama toasts “good health and prosperity in 2014.” John Boehner says he is willing to poll his members, but can’t, “in good conscience,” make any promises.
- NH political player of 2012 finalist: Mitt Romney (wmur.com)
- 2012 Elections: In Polarized Nation, Iowa Finds Itself Oddly Split (huffingtonpost.com)
- 2013 Precap (Guest Voice) (themoderatevoice.com)
- Peter Funt | 2013 Precap (yubanet.com)
- The year in politics – in quotes (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- Romney Joins Palin as Recipient of the “Lie of the Year” Award (mbcalyn.com)
- Today’s Buzz: Did Chris Christie betray Mitt Romney? (orlandosentinel.com)
- This should go over well with donors: Mitt Romney ‘had no desire’ to be President (pamshouseblend.firedoglake.com)
- Scott Walker wants to rig the electoral college to fulfill his own presidential ambitions (bluedownstate.wordpress.com)
- Mitt Romney’s New Year’s Resolution – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
The Liberation of General MotorsBy STEVEN RATTNER
Like Willy the whale, General Motors has finally been freed – or nearly so.
Today’s announcement that the Treasury Department had agreed on a process to extricate the government from its ownership stake in G.M., the world’s largest automaker, is welcome news.
For General Motors, the separation will conclusively remove the appellation of “government motors,” a stigma that the company had argued affected the buying decisions of a meaningful segment of consumers.
The divorce will ultimately also liberate G.M. from a number of government-imposed restrictions, importantly including those relating to executive compensation. These restrictions adversely affected G.M.’s ability to recruit and retain talent. Now, compensation decisions will be made by the company’s board of directors, just as they are in every other public company in America.
From Washington’s point of view, divesting its remaining shares will end an uncomfortable and distinctly un-American period of government ownership in a major industrial company.
The only alternative to government stepping in would have been for the companies to close their doors, terminate all their workers and liquidate.
Neither the George W. Bush nor the Obama administrations volunteered to bail out G.M., Chrysler and other parts of the auto sector. Both subscribed firmly to the longstanding American principle that government should resolutely avoid these kinds of interventions, particularly in the industrial sector.
However, in this case, that was simply not possible, as Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama both concluded. I and the other members of the Obama administration’s auto task force determined that the industry’s crisis was caused not only by the financial and economic meltdown but, equally, by poor management that had run these American icons into the ground and exhausted their cash resources.
We were faced with a classic market failure: Not a penny of private capital was willing to provide the financing essential for these companies to keep running. Those (like Mitt Romney) who contend that G.M. and Chrysler could have been restructured without government involvement simply don’t understand the facts.
The only alternative to government stepping in would have been for the companies to close their doors, terminate all their workers and liquidate. That would have led to huge failures and layoffs among the suppliers. Even Ford would have had to shut down, at least for a time, because of the unavailability of parts.
Here’s another important lesson of the auto rescue: It would not have been possible without the existence of the much-hated $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Without TARP, we could not have provided the $82 billion to these companies without Congressional approval. And given the dysfunction of Congress, I don’t believe there was any chance that the legislature would have acted within the few weeks that we had before the companies would have collapsed.
In a perfect world, I would not be a seller of G.M. stock at this moment. For one thing, the company is still completing the reworking of its sluggish management processes in order to achieve faster and better decisions and lower costs.
For another, G.M.’s financial problems slowed its development of new products during 2008 and 2009. Now, a passel of shiny new models offering great promise is about to hit showrooms.
And in my view, G.M. stock remains undervalued, trading at about 7 times its projected 2013 earnings, compared with nearly 13 for the stock market as whole.
But as my former boss in the White House, Lawrence H. Summers, kept reminding us in 2009, this intervention needed to be the opposite of Vietnam: We wanted to have as small a footprint as possible while the government was a shareholder and to get out as quickly as practicable.
While the government still retains (temporarily) a majority stake in Ally, G.M.’s former finance arm (formerly known as GMAC), the scorecard for the auto rescue is nearly complete.
Of the $82 billion that the two administrations pumped into the auto sector, Treasury is likely to recover all but about $14 billion.
No doubt, bailout haters will focus on this loss of taxpayer money. But remember two key points:
First, the $17.4 billion initial round of bridge loans that was provided at the end of 2008 was necessary only because GM and Chrysler had been utterly derelict in not preparing for restructurings through bankruptcy that were clearly inevitable. G.M., in particular, wallowed in an irresponsible state of denial. Had the companies been properly prepared, the loss of that $17.4 billion could have been avoided.
Second, for $14 billion – 0.4 percent of the government’s annual expenditures – more than a million jobs were saved at a time when unemployment in the Midwest was well above 10 percent.
The auto industry has not only survived but it is flourishing. Car sales, which had sunk as low as 10.4 million in 2009, are now running at an annual rate of more than 15 million. As many as 250,000 new workers have been added. Disastrous past industry practices – from bloated inventories to excessive sales incentives – have been curbed. As a result, G.M. earn more in 2011 than in any year in its 104-year history.
Finally, let’s keep well in mind the most important lesson of the auto rescue: While government should stay away from the private sector as much as possible, markets do occasionally fail, and when they do government can play a constructive role, as it did in the case of the auto rescue.
- Liberty to Lie – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Rhetoric returns to auto bailout (dispatch.com)
- Now General Motors Is Ripping Mitt Romney For Lying About The Auto Industry (businessinsider.com)
- Fact check: Obama, Romney trade charges over federal auto bailout (latimes.com)
- GM: Romney in ‘parallel universe’ with bailout claims – The Hill’s Transportation Report (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama’s U.S. Auto Industry Better Off Than Four Years Ago: Cars – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- General Motors to Change Name to Government Motors (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Now They Tell Us (pjmedia.com)
- The Oracle at Delphi: Mitt Romney’s direct tie to increased unemployment in North Alabama (warmsouthernbreeze.wordpress.com)
- Romney Profited from Auto Bailout (drudge.com)
Class Wars of 2012
By PAUL KRUGMAN
On Election Day, The Boston Globe reported, Logan International Airport in Boston was running short of parking spaces. Not for cars — for private jets. Big donors were flooding into the city to attend Mitt Romney’s victory party.
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
They were, it turned out, misinformed about political reality. But the disappointed plutocrats weren’t wrong about who was on their side. This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor.
And the Obama campaign won largely by disregarding the warnings of squeamish “centrists” and embracing that reality, stressing the class-war aspect of the confrontation. This ensured not only that President Obama won by huge margins among lower-income voters, but that those voters turned out in large numbers, sealing his victory.
The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t. The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election.
Before I get there, a word about the actual vote. Obviously, narrow economic self-interest doesn’t explain everything about how individuals, or even broad demographic groups, cast their ballots. Asian-Americans are a relatively affluent group, yet they went for President Obama by 3 to 1. Whites in Mississippi, on the other hand, aren’t especially well off, yet Mr. Obama received only 10 percent of their votes.
These anomalies, however, weren’t enough to change the overall pattern. Meanwhile, Democrats seem to have neutralized the traditional G.O.P. advantage on social issues, so that the election really was a referendum on economic policy. And what voters said, clearly, was no to tax cuts for the rich, no to benefit cuts for the middle class and the poor. So what’s a top-down class warrior to do?
The answer, as I have already suggested, is to rely on stealth — to smuggle in plutocrat-friendly policies under the pretense that they’re just sensible responses to the budget deficit.
Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility forMedicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent.
Or take a subtler example, the insistence that any revenue increases should come from limiting deductions rather than from higher tax rates. The key thing to realize here is that the math just doesn’t work; there is, in fact, no way limits on deductions can raise as much revenue from the wealthy as you can get simply by letting the relevant parts of the Bush-era tax cuts expire. So any proposal to avoid a rate increase is, whatever its proponents may say, a proposal that we let the 1 percent off the hook and shift the burden, one way or another, to the middle class or the poor.
The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception. And this, in turn, means that you need to look very closely at any proposals coming from the usual suspects, even — or rather especially — if the proposal is being represented as a bipartisan, common-sense solution. In particular, whenever some deficit-scold group talks about “shared sacrifice,” you need to ask, sacrifice relative to what?
As regular readers may know, I’m not a fan of the Bowles-Simpson report on deficit reduction that laid out a poorly designed plan that for some reason has achieved near-sacred status among the Beltway elite. Still, at least you can say this for Bowles-Simpson: When it talked about shared sacrifice, it started from a “baseline” that already assumed the end of the high-end Bush tax cuts. At this point, however, just about all the deficit scolds seem to want us to count the expiration of those cuts — which were sold on false pretenses, and were never affordable — as some kind of big giveback by the rich. It isn’t.
So keep your eyes open as the fiscal game of chicken continues. It’s an uncomfortable but real truth that we are not all in this together; America’s top-down class warriors lost big in the election, but now they’re trying to use the pretense of concern about the deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Let’s not let them pull it off.
- Class Wars of 2012 – Paul Krugman via NYTimes.com (underpaidgenius.com)
- Robots and Robber Barons – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Paul Krugman: Class Wars of 2012 (economistsview.typepad.com)
- Class Wars of 2012 – Paul Krugman (tribuneofthepeople.com)
- Class Wars of 2012 — it ain’t over, yet! (mbcalyn.com)
- Class wars – American style (mbcalyn.com)
- Yes and no… (atung.net)
- Liberty to Lie – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Fix the Debt: plutocrats are turning up the volume on the class war (mbcalyn.com)
- “We are not all in this together.” (prairieweather.typepad.com)
Romney can retire later
By Dana Milbank,
In his first public comments since election night, the defeated Republican presidential nominee issued a statement Monday announcing his next step. An appeal to national unity? A charitable initiative?Loading…
No, he announced that he was rejoining the hotel chain’s board of directors. “It is an honor to once again be able to serve in the company of leaders like Bill Marriott,” said Romney’s statement, distributed by Marriott.
It was emblematic of the tone-deaf, I-have-some-great-friends-that-are-NASCAR-team-owners moments that contributed to his loss. The country is in a crisis, political leaders in a standoff, and Romney is joining his buddy’s corporate board.
Romney is a private citizen now and free to do as he chooses. But it’s not as if he needs the money; the $170,000 in cash and stockthat Marriott directors received in the most recent year reported is but a sliver of the$20 million or so Romney takes in annually from his investments.
More to the point, Romney’s first post-election move served to confirm the exhaustive report my Post colleague Philip Rucker did on Romney’s “rapid retreat into seclusion.” Rucker, who covered the Romney campaign for this paper, wrote that in the former candidate’s disappearance he is “exhibiting the same detachment that made it so difficult for him to connect with the body politic through six years of running for president.”
Romney’s post-election behavior has been, in a word, small. Never again, likely, will his voice and influence be as powerful as they are now. Yet rather than stepping forward to help find a way out of the fiscal standoff, or to help his party rebuild itself, he delivered a perfunctory concession speech, told wealthy donors that Obama won by giving “gifts” to minorities, then avoided the press at a private lunch with President Obama.
Though keeping nominal residence in Massachusetts, the state he led as governor, he moved out to his California home and has been spotted at Disneyland, at the new “Twilight” movie, at a pizza place, pumping gas and going to the gym. In warm weather, he plans to live at his lakefront manse in New Hampshire. The man who spoke passionately about his love for the American auto industry has been driving around in a new Audi Q7.
A former adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, told Rucker that Romney will “be involved in some fashion” in public service. And nobody can begrudge Romney some downtime. But his failure to engage now, at a time when he could have the most clout, reinforces the impression that his candidacy was less about principle and patriotism than about him.
Romney wove through his campaign a sometimes stirring, sometimes corny patriotism, singing “America the Beautiful” and saying, “I ask the American people to vote for love of country.”
It’s understandable that Romney would now feel like shrinking from the scene: He offered the people a choice, and they chose otherwise. But this is a crucial time for the country and particularly for Romney’s Republican Party, which must unshackle itself from the far right or become irrelevant.
His campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, expressed regret in recent days that the candidate was drawn into taking a hard line on immigration during the primaries. No less a Republican than Karl Rove pleaded for tolerance in the Republican Party, where “moderates and conservatives had gone at each other and made victory impossible.”
Many in the GOP blame Romney for his defeat, particularly since his “gifts” remark. But his real problem was the positions he was forced to take. For him to speak out about this now could repair his party and help the country.
In the fiscal-cliff debate, it’s not clear that John Boehner, Mitch McConnell or anybody else is in control of Republican backbenchers. GOP lawmakers such as Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) are treated as heretics for stating the obvious need to compromise. Even in defeat, Romney’s voice could be enough to return his party to reason.
When Romney met Obama at the White House last week, the administration released a statement noting the menu (white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad) and saying the two men “pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future.”
Shared interests? Shouldn’t keeping the nation out of economic calamity qualify as one of those?
Marriott and the Q7 can wait.
- Dana Milbank wants Mitt Romney to do something about the fiscal cliff (theblaze.com)
- Dana Milbank: How Dare Romney Withdraw Back Into Private, Profit-Seeking Life After I and My Political Correligionists Trashed Him and Kept Him From Taking Office (minx.cc)
- Mitt Romney misses an opportunity to help solve the ‘fiscal cliff’: Dana Milbank (oregonlive.com)
- Dana Milbank Chides Mitt Romney for Not Riding to the Rescue of the Country that Just Rejected Him (pjmedia.com)
- Dana Milbanks: Romney can retire later (reporternews.com)
- Milbank: Mitt asks not what he can do for his country (denverpost.com)
- Dana Milbank: Romney’s Jeep ad drives off the road of truth – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Dana Milbank: Mitt Romney changing his tune in final hours – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Mitt Romney rejoins Marriott board of directors (usatoday.com)
- Mitt Romney rejoins Marriott board (onlineathens.com)